The wrong Bird won.
Summer Bird, a longshot son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdsong, blew past 6-5 favorite Mine That Bird Saturday in the 141st running of the Belmont and upset Calvin Borel’s bid to become the first jockey to win the Triple Crown aboard two different horses.
The victory was sweet revenge for jockey Kent Desormeaux, who eased up heavy favorite Big Brown in last year’s Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown.
“The colt broke like a rocket,” Desormeaux said of Summer Bird, who went off at 11-1. “He absolutely drove me around the race track.”
It was Borel who was expected to have an easy time on the mile-and-a-half Belmont track, and to take advantage of Mine That Bird’s late speed. He’d come from behind to win the Kentucky Derby, then nearly beat filly Rachel Alexander in the Preakness. Borel, who opted to ride Rachel Alexander over Mine That Bird in the second leg of the Triple Crown, had guaranteed a victory aboard Mine That Bird in the Belmont once Rachel Alexander’s owners decided not to run her.
But Borel made an early move on Mine That Bird, who fought the jockey, and the gelding ran out of gas in the stretch, allowing Summer Bird to charge through a hole ahead of second-place finisher Dunkirk and third-place Mine That Bird.
“I thought he was home free,” Borel said. “It was so slow up front, I had to let him go a little. But I had the lead at the 5/16th pole.”
Mine That Bird’s trainer, Chip Woolley, a cowboy from New Mexico who had burst into the limelight with the Derby win, was obviously disappointed. “I think we probably had the best horse here,” he said. “We made a move a little early and came up a little short.”
The Belmont was the final leg of an unusual Triple Crown series that saw a bunch of cowboys from New Mexico upset the Derby at 50-1 with Mine That Bird, a horse that couldn’t even win his final two Derby preps at Sunland Park. (Read more.)